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Putin’s New Ukraine Commander Dubbed “General Armageddon” For Ruthless Track Record

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“Russia and Russia’s commanders are worried about the state of their military machine,” the head of British intelligence agency GCHQ Jeremy Fleming, told BBC Radio on Tuesday. “We can see that desperation at many levels inside Russian society and inside the Russian military machine,” he described in an assessment which comes days after a big Russian military command shake-up.

Following the past weeks of a rapid roll-back of Russian positions in Ukraine’s east, President Vladimir Putin sacked two of his senior military commanders and appointed General Sergey Surovikin to lead the next the next phase of the war effort in Ukraine, which began with Monday’s major escalation in airstrikes on over a dozen cities, which was a response to the Kerch Bridge bombing. 

Pundits and journalist in the West are widely casting Gen. Surovikin’s appointment as part of a new “gloves off”, more brutal offensive to come on the heels of last month’s partial mobilization order which has involved calling up some 300,000 reservists to support the “special operation”. He was previously head of the air force.

Mainstream press reports have already labeled him “General Armageddon” for his reputation as being “absolutely ruthless” – particularly in the prior command role which saw him gain most battlefield experience: Syria. 

Within Russian establishment media circles which lean hawkish, Surovikin has been hailed as a “legendary” commander and as the country’s “most competent” general. According to a brief review of his rise through top echelon ranks in Al Jazeera:

The general, born in 1966 in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, was announced as the head of Russia’s southern military grouping in its war on Ukraine in June.

Surovikin received the title of Hero of Russia and was awarded a medal for his service in Syria in 2017, where he led the Russian military expedition as commander of the Aerospace Forces.

He is known for being totally “ruthless” in the Russian military, according to a report (PDF) by the Jamestown Foundation, a US defence policy think-tank.

“Surovikin made a stellar career in the top echelons of the General Staff and defence ministry after 2008, during the radical military reform that required ruthlessness,” read the report, adding that his “readiness to vigorously execute any orders trounced any potential questions about his checkered curriculum vitae”.

Now in succeeding Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov in the role of top commander over the Ukraine operation, Surovkin faces the immense pressure of seeking to deliver Putin’s key objectives, even as NATO backers of Kiev ramp up their own intelligence-sharing and arms resupply efforts.

This week UK intelligence put out an assessment saying Surovikin “will likely have to contend with an increasingly factional Russian defense ministry which is poorly resourced to achieve the Kremlin’s objectives in Ukraine.”

According to more on his checkered past reaching back to the political discord of 1990’s post-Soviet struggles, he spent “two stints in jail for allegedly selling weapons and for leading a military column against protesters during the 1991 coup,” The Guardian reviews. “He has also previously served in Tajikistan and Chechnya.” And more

“For over 30 years, Surovikin’s career has been dogged with allegations of corruption and brutality,” wrote British intelligence officials in a recent report on Surovikin’s likely promotion to lead the southern military group.

During the 1991 coup d’état attempt launched by Soviet hardliners, Surovikin, then a captain, led a rifle division that drove through barricades erected by pro-democracy protesters. Three men were killed in the clash, including one who was crushed.

The report further speculates that “With the appointment, the Kremlin may also be seeking to combat criticism from nationalists who have accused the army of mismanaging the war in Ukraine and of failing to use harsh tactics to try to force the Kyiv government to submit.” Some of those ‘harsher tactics’ have been on display with Monday into Tuesday’s large-scale bombing waves of major Ukrainian cities, particularly focused on energy infrastructure.

This post was originally published at Zero Hedge

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World at War

Croatian President Calls Germany’s ‘We Are at War With Russia’ Comment “Madness”

Wishes Germany better luck in war against Russia than they had 70 years ago.

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Croatian President Zoran Milanovic responded to the German foreign minister saying “we are fighting a war against Russia” by calling the remark “madness” and wishing Germany better luck than with the last war they had with Russia 70 years ago.

Oof, burn.

Milanovic was responding to the bizarre and inflammatory statement made by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Tuesday.

“Yes, we have to do more also on tanks but the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other,” said Baerbock.

Milanovic ridiculed the comments, saying that such a development was news to him.

“Now the German foreign minister says we must be united, because I quote, we are at war with Russia. I didn’t know that,” Milanovic said. “Maybe Germany is at war with Russia, but then, good luck, maybe this time it turns out better than 70-odd years ago.”

“Do you want us to enter the war?” asked Milanovic during a visit to the port city of Split, adding that Croatia “should in no way help” Ukraine militarily.

The Croatian president expressed his amazement that such aggressive rhetoric was being spouted by a representative of the usually pacifist German Greens.

“If we are at war with Russia, then let’s see what we need to do. But we won’t ask Germany for its opinion,” Milanovic asserted. “Let them figure out who is the actual chancellor over there. I’ve been in politics for a long time, and our country has been through a lot, but I’ve never seen this kind of madness before.”

Milanovic condemned NATO powers for flooding the region with tanks and other weaponry in order to prolong the war.

“Those tanks may burn, or they may reach Crimea, but Croatia will have nothing to do with it,” he insisted.

As we previously highlighted, US weapons sales to other countries rose from $103.4 billion in 2021 to $153.7 billion in 2022, with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all making a killing out of the Ukraine conflict.

In a related development, the French Foreign Ministry claimed that the US, Germany and other countries sending battle tanks to Ukraine did not mean that NATO was at war with Russia.

“We are not at war with Russia and none of our partners are,” ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said.

Really? It sure feels that way.

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US Weapons Manufacturers Enjoy Soaring Profits Thanks to War in Ukraine

War is a racket.

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The US military-industrial complex is making massive gains as a result of the war in Ukraine and other global conflicts, with weapons manufacturers enjoying soaring profits.

Data released by the State Department shows that US weapons sales to other countries rose from $103.4 billion in 2021 to $153.7 billion in 2022.

The leap was largely thanks to US support for prolonging the war in Ukraine.

Germany’s order of 35 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter airplanes for $8.4 billion and Poland’s $6 billion spend on 250 M1 Abrams tanks also bumped up the numbers.

$3 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, a country which the Biden administration promised to stop arming due to its war in Yemen, also inflated the figure, as did $2.2 billion to the United Arab Emirates and a $1.1 billion weapons package for Taiwan.

Lockheed Martin, which develops the F-16, F-22, and F-35 fighter jets, saw its profits jump 7.13% to $19 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Northrop Grumman is also expected to report 11.8% revenue growth for fourth quarter earnings, thanks in part to its manufacture and sale of F-35 fighter jets.

Raytheon, the maker of the Patriot Air Defense System which the Biden administration is set to supply Ukraine with, enjoyed a Q4 profit rise of nearly 18% compared to last year.

News of the profits has served as a reminder of a 1935 essay written by United States Marine Corps Major General Smedley D. Butler, who famously said “war is a racket,” pointing out how gunpowder manufacturer the DuPont Company saw their profits increase by more than 950% during The Great War.

Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s comments to Sky News will be music to the ears of the permanent war industry.

In an interview with Kay Burley, Zelenskyy said he was “not interested” in meeting with Putin or anyone else from Russia for peace talks.

Yesterday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock basically declared war on Russia during a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other,” said Baerbock.

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German Foreign Minister Just Said The Quiet Part Out Loud On Ukraine

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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock bluntly stated in fresh remarks that Western allies are fighting a war against Russia. The remarks came during a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday amid discussions over sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

While Baerbock’s words were largely ignored in mainstream media, a number of pundits on social media noted with alarm that the German foreign minister just essentially declared war on Russia.

Ironically other German officials have long sought to emphasize their country is not a party to the conflict, fearing uncontrollable escalation.

Ukraine Rocked By Corruption Scandal, Wave Of Top Officials Resign: Sports Cars, Mansions & Luxury Vacations As People Suffered

Contradicting this official stance, Baerbock said the quiet part out loud, and introduced the comments with: “And therefore I’ve said already in the last days – yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks.”

And that’s when she asserted: “But the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

Interestingly, both Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his former defense minister who recently resigned, Christine Lambrecht, have been seen as weak on arming Ukraine – repeatedly declaring an unwillingness to get pulled deeper into the proxy war aspect to the conflict. But now it seems the more hawkish Baerbock is willing to at this point be much more open with the reality of what’s happening.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova seized on the comments, saying this is yet more proof that the Western allies were planning a war on Russia all along…

“If we add this to Merkel’s revelations that they were strengthening Ukraine and did not count on the Minsk agreements, then we are talking about a war against Russia that was planned in advance. Don’t say later that we didn’t warn you,” Zakharova said.

One thing is for sure, things are moving fast…

This post was originally published at Zero Hedge

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